Take 3: Ben-Hur (1959) Review + 60 Follower Thank You

Two weeks ago, I received 60 followers on my blog! Because of this exciting milestone, I decided to review Ben-Hur. While this movie was released 60 years ago, in 1959, it is also a movie that I have never seen before (yes, you read that right). Ben-Hur is one of those movies that a lot of people have said should been seen at least once in your life. Since I now had a good excuse to watch this film, I decided to choose this movie for this specific blog follower dedication post. Over the years, I have become familiar with this film’s general synopsis as well as the existence of the film itself. I also knew that there was some Christianity that was associated with this film. Other than those things, I didn’t really understand the hype surrounding the movie. What did I think of this juggernaut of a film? You’ll just have to read this review if you want to find out!

ben-hur 1959 poster
Ben-Hur (1959) poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s, Inc. Image found at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ben_hur_1959_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I really liked the acting in Ben-Hur! All of the performances were captivating, keeping me invested in what the characters were going through. The three strongest actors in this cast were Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, and Haya Harareet. These actors brought the emotional intensity that was not only required for their roles, but also complimented the scope of the overall film. Their performances, as well as the performances from the rest of the cast, helped make this film an enjoyable experience!

 

  • The sets/scenery: I was very impressed by the sets/scenery in this film! All of the sets were magnificent, feeling larger-than-life and beautiful. Whether it was Judah’s family home or the chariot-racing stadium, these sets were very grand in scale. The scenery was also great to look at! There were various landscapes throughout Ben-Hur, from the desert to the ocean, that were captured very well on film. The natural beauty of these landscapes was eye-catching and visually appealing. The locations in this movie were so great, that it made the experience of watching it so immersive. This aspect of Ben-Hur added to its overall quality.

 

  • The incorporation of Christianity/faith: In “sword and sandal” movies, faith is usually not found within that story’s specific narrative. For Ben-Hur, certain Biblical events were incorporated into the overall story. One example is how the movie starts with showing The Nativity, using this event to introduce the audience to one of the film’s characters, Balthasar (who happens to be one of The Three Wise Men). These events were included in a way that seemed to fit within the context of this particular film. They were effortlessly woven in with the main plot of Ben-Hur. It was also interesting to see how faith affected the characters and their actions. With the protagonist, Judah, faith played a significant role in his character development. It showed how he made decisions and chose to live his life. Before the chariot race begins, Judah says a prayer to God to forgive him for seeking vengeance and to place his life in His hands. This component was an interesting and crucial aspect of the story.

 

  • The cinematography: Ben-Hur had some interesting cinematography. One example of this was how Jesus’ face is never shown on-screen. While Jesus’ identity is not explicitly revealed in this story, certain events and references make it clear that Jesus plays an important role in this particular narrative. Another example is when Esther meets Miriam and Tirzah after a few years time. During this interaction, Miriam and Tirzah’s face is barely shown. But, this choice in cinematography was effective in showing both the heartbreak and emotional strain that their particular situation would have caused. Because of these faces being either barely shown or never shown on-screen, it keeps the film engaging for its audience, making them wonder if or when these faces will ever be seen. Creative choices like these helped make Ben-Hur as good of a story as it was.
stone-horses-1219399-1278x670
Chariot statue from the Roman Empire image created by Michel Meynsbrughen at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Michel Meynsbrughen.”

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • Feeling too drawn-out: Throughout Ben-Hur, the story felt a little too drawn-out. What made me feel this way was how some scenes seemed to drag on more than others. An example of this is how the introduction to the chariot race felt like it was a few minutes too long. The reason for the length of these scenes is, probably, to satisfy the film’s three-plus hour run-time. To me, I think this movie could have been cut down to, at least, two and a half hours. This way, the main plot could have kept the film’s main focus while having the overall story get straight-to-the-point.
lipican-horse-1399491-1280x960
White horse image created by Gabor Palla at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Gabor Palla.”

My overall impression:

Over these 60 years, this movie has gained “classic” status. From being archived and preserved to appearing on best movie lists, Ben-Hur has earned a respectable reputation as well as many fans. Now that I have seen this film, I can honestly say that the hype was well-earned. I really enjoyed Ben-Hur! I was so engrossed in what I was watching, those three hours felt like they flew by so fast. If you have never seen Ben-Hur, I would highly recommend it! Please don’t let the three-hour run-time intimidate you. This is such a well-told and well-crafted story that truly deserves to be seen. To tell you the truth, if it weren’t for 18 Cinema Lane receiving 60 followers, I might have never seen Ben-Hur. But I’m glad I chose to review this movie for this blog follower dedication post because I had a good time watching it. Once again, I want to say thank you to all my 60 followers!

 

Overall score: 8.7 out of 10

 

Have you seen Ben-Hur? Which 1959 released film is your favorite? Please let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

4 thoughts on “Take 3: Ben-Hur (1959) Review + 60 Follower Thank You

  1. Back in that time period they had these things called roadshows where movies were kind of like plays where the movie is split into two acts which included an intermission. So that’s probably why it’s so long and congrats on 60 followers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking out my review, Cameron! Shortly after I published my Ben-Hur review, I received 65 followers! My blog follower dedication post for that particular milestone will be posted very soon.

      Like

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